12 months (three terms, plus thesis work)
16 months (four terms)
The Housing and Urbanism Programme engages architecture with the challenges of contemporary urban strategies. Today’s metropolitan regions show tremendous diversity and complexity, with significant global shifts in the patterns of urban growth
and decline. Architecture has a central role to play in this dynamic context, developing spatial strategies as part of urban policies and generating new urban clusters and types. This course focuses on important changes in the contemporary urban condition and investigates how architectural intelligence helps us to understand and respond to these trends. Offered
as a 12-month MA or a 16-month MArch, the course is balanced between cross-disciplinary research and design application. Students’ work is divided among three equally important areas: design workshops, lectures and seminars, and a written thesis for the MA or a design thesis for the MArch - all of which allow students to develop an extended and focused study within the broader themes of the course.
Lecture Courses and Seminars
Design Workshop Terms 1, 2 and 3
The Design Workshop is the programme’s core course and provides a framework for linking design investigation to a politically and historically informed approach to issues of contemporary urbanism. Students and tutors make up small teams and work together to explore and develop design responses to well-defined urban challenges. The course also runs seminars to stimulate debates on different approaches to key themes in the programme’s areas of research, with presentations by both students and visiting scholars and practitioners. The course consists of individual and group work, and students present both design and written work. While each of the workshop teams pursues distinct lines of investigation, the seminars and individual work give the opportunity for individual work on approaches to key issues within urbanism today. We focus on the urban inner periphery, where the complexity of the urban process is plainly visible. Each team defines the balance and integration of architectural, social and political concepts that drive its work, giving every project a distinctive style and character.
Our main site for design investigation will be an inner-peripheral area of London. We will engage with the urban process of this site within the larger context of the city and of its metropolitan region. We will also have an intensive design workshop outside the UK, which gives us the opportunity to collaborate with other urbanism programmes and city governments, testing our design and conceptual approaches in a different context.
Cities in a Transnational World, Term 1
This course explores the social and economic context of housing and urbanism as it interacts with the formulation and implementation of strategies of urban development and with the reshaping of the role of architects and planners in the making of cities. It offers a comparative analysis of the restructuring of cities in the context of the current stage of internationalisation of the world economy, placing strong emphasis on issues of policy and planning, and on current reforms in systems of urban governance.
The Reason of Urbanism, Term 1
This lecture and discussion series provides the foundations for an engagement with the urban as a problem-field in western governmental reasoning. The course will trace the twentieth- century development of urbanism so as to highlight the inherent political issues, and will develop a theoretical perspective through an engagement with the work of Arendt, Foucault, Sennett and others. Through this perspective students will investigate the relation of key political concepts to the generation of new urban spatiality.
Critical Urbanism, Terms 1 and 2
This course will explore urbanism’s role as an instrument of diagnosis and critique. Beginning with lectures and readings in the first term and building toward a seminar format in the second term, the course explores the ways architecture has generated a range of critical and reflexive responses to the city over the last four decades. Emphasis will be placed on developing students’ facility through the critical analysis of contemporary urban projects, while background readings will include Koolhaas, Rowe, Rossi, Eisenman, Tschumi and others.
Shaping the Modern City, Terms 1 and 2
This course compares various national and local strategies evolved by the state to meet the challenge of urban expansion in the past 100 years. Rather than presenting a continuous narrative history, the course looks at key events, projects and texts that illustrate contemporary responses to the opportunities and problems created by growth. The focus is on post-1945 housing and planning in a number of European and US cities in order to consider critical issues such as density, regeneration, mixed use and new working and living patterns.
Housing and the Informal City, Term 2
This course uses housing as a strategic vehicle for investigating the evolution of ideas and approaches to the informal and irregular processes of city making. In particular, it critically reviews the growing despatialisation of strategies for addressing urban informality and their associated social conditions while exploring the role of urbanism and spatial design. The course attempts to identify appropriate tools and instruments of spatial intervention and design, and to examine their articulation by redesigning urban institutions and rules.
Domesticity, Term 2
This seminar series explores trends in multi-residential housing against the background of a discursive formation, linking together domesticity and urbanism. Taking Mies van der Rohe’s patio houses of the 1930s and Karel Teige’s 1932 critique of the minimum dwelling as opening counterpoints, this course develops the students’ understanding of type and diagram in the pursuit of fresh approaches to urban living. Core readings include the writings of Michel Foucault, Jacques Donzelot and Nikolas Rose.
Thesis Seminar, Term 3
This seminar is organised around the students’ written or design thesis. It provides a forum to discuss work in progress with members of staff and invited critics, and to comment on each other’s work
We will make a study trip to a European city to develop comparative research, and will invite a number of academics and practitioners from all over the world to contribute to the programme. Students are also encouraged to attend courses offered by other programmes in the AA.
Jorge Fiori is a sociologist and urban planner. He has worked in academic institutions in Chile, Brazil and England, as a visiting lecturer at several Latin American and European universities and consultant to a number of international and national urban development agencies. He researches and publishes on housing and urban development, with particular focus on the interplay of spatial strategies and urban social policy.
Hugo Hinsley is an architect with expertise in urban development projects and housing design. He has a wide range of practice experience and has been a consultant to many projects in Europe, Australia and the US. He has taught and published internationally. Recent research includes London’s design and planning, particularly in Docklands and Spitalfields; urban policy and structures in European cities; and rethinking concepts of density.
Lawrence Barth lectures on urbanism and political theory, and has written on the themes of politics and critical theory in relation to the urban. He is a consultant urbanist on large-scale strategic projects to architects, cities, and governments, and is engaged in research on urban intensification, innovation environments, and the transformation of workspace in the knowledge economy.
Abigail Batchelor is an architect and urban geographer with practice experience in the Netherlands and UK. Her focus is on the architectural, urban and socio-economic challenges of large-scale urban redevelopment. Recent projects include housing design guidance for Hackney Council and Liveable London project with CPRE London. Her research focuses on the aestheticisation practices surrounding development and the meanings of place within a globalised market.
Nicholas Bullock studied architecture at Cambridge University and completed a PhD under Leslie Martin. His research work includes issues of housing reform with a special interest in Germany; postwar housing design and policy; and the architecture and planning of reconstruction after the Second World War.
Elad Eisenstein is a Director at Arup and the leader for urban design and masterplanning for the UK, Middle East and Africa. He is an architect and an urban designer, and has experience in designing and delivering a wide range of projects with sustainable placemaking at their core, including new eco-cities, large-scale metropolitan centres, and complex city centre sites.
Dominic Papa is an architect and urban designer involved in practice, teaching and research. He is a founding partner of the practice s333 Studio for Architecture and Urbanism, which has won awards for projects across Europe. He is a design review panel member for CABE, and has been a jury member for a number of international competitions.
Anna Shapiro is an architect and urbanist, who studied architecture and urban planning at Tel Aviv University, and received her MA from the AA. She has worked for a range of architectural practices and is currently an urban designer with Sheppard Robson Architects. Anna is part of ‘Collective Formations’, an international design research group, and is an artist and illustrator.
Naiara Vegara is an architect, the Director of Fundation Metropoli Design LAAB London, and a Director of the AA Visiting School Semester Programme in London. Naiara has been a visiting critic at many architecture schools, and has presented her research on virtual environments and the design process in architecture at workshops hosted at Columbia University, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania.
Alex Warnock-Smith is an architect and urban designer. He has lectured and written internationally, and is co-founder of Urban Projects Bureau, a multi-disciplinary practice working on architectural, urban and public realm projects. UPB was selected by the British Council to exhibit at the British Pavilion at the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale 2012.